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Tough trade triggers early Sales at indies

Indies are being forced to introduce promotions earlier than last year due to tough trading conditions and the difficulty of selling winter stock in unseasonally mild weather.

After last year’s bitterly cold weather, indies bought heavily into coats and knitwear for autumn 11. However, many indies have found it difficult to shift this stock owing to autumn’s unseasonably warm weather, prompting widespread promotions on specific categories and selected brands with discounts of up to 40% for limited periods.

Janine O’Keefe, owner of premium womenswear indie O’Keefe in Esher, Surrey, said she is reviewing her promotional strategy daily. O’Keefe said a promotion offering 30% off selected brands including Karen Cole and Boss Orange last week had helped, but if coat sales did not pick up this week she would hold another.

Half of the 38 indies Drapers spoke to have held more promotions than in autumn 10, with several launching a full winter Sale at the beginning of December. Indies said going into Sale early would hit margins.

Gary Lever, co-owner of young fashion indie Duo Menswear in Gourock, near Glasgow, said he would go on Sale in the new year as he did not want to set a precedent. He added: “You don’t want to devalue your own brand.”

Difficult trading conditions are compounding pressure on indies, which are facing a credit crisis due to changes to payment terms caused by the withdrawal of brands’ credit insurance. Drapers and Labour MP Simon Danczuk will solicit evidence over the coming weeks, with the findings published early next year.

Readers' comments (5)

  • I agree with Gary Lever. No matter how hard it is right now you have to "tough" it out. Too many precedents have been set and consumers are getting out of the habit of buying at regular margins. Their mindsets have got to be changed.

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  • If you're an independent that can't sell items at full price at this time of year, then you really shouldn't be in business at all. By discounting now you have a set a precedent, as your customers will expect it next year and the year after and so on. Mindless.

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  • Its all very easy to say don't go on sale, however in my area 4 local inderpendants started thier sales at the end of Nov. Thier currently at half price now. As a result this week my turnover will be muched reduced, as who wants to pay full price in my shops?. Most customers don't care what thier buying as long as its heavily discounted, and I'm talking about the upper middle to premium markets here!

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  • If you go on sale pre christmas you are ruining your own business for the next season. If you cant take the heat - get out the kitchen. A proper business will hold out.

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  • The advent of heavy discounting on the internet coupled with the multiples such as republic JD Group Hose of fraser and USC has virtually made it very difficult for retailers in the middle market not to succumb to discounting as the same product is available cheaper via these sources. Independents have known about this for a long time have to adjust their product mix away from this. The ones who do this can rightly say they wont go on sale as they have a USP and will be rewarded accordingly .

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